An elementary school in Tokyo is upping the ante on playground style by adopting school uniforms designed by Giorgio Armani. Seriously.
Taimei Elementary School in the upscale shopping district of Ginza, has announced plans to introduce a new uniform option for students that costs 80,000 Japanese Yen (approximately $943 CAD). The cost of one Armani uniform set of navy blue jacket, matching pants or skirt, as well as a long sleeve shirt and hat is nearly double the cost of the current school uniform (which, if you’re doing the math, is still a lot).
The high fashion decision has received criticism from both parents and government officials. In Japan, parents are already feeling the financial strain of costly tuition fees, and the move to introduce a costly version of the existing uniform could drive a wedge between students of different economic backgrounds, disrupting the current sense of belonging they provide.
“School uniforms are already more expensive than the business suits we wear,” said Manabu Terata, an opposition lawmaker in Japanese parliament. “But these uniforms at Taimei Elementary School are especially questionable.”
One education commentator, Naoki Ogi, recently posted a blog about the school’s decision writing, “Armani at a public elementary school?…. It’s like saying no to poor people and welcoming only those who take pride in Armani.”
Despite the onslaught of criticism, the Taimei Elementary principal, Toshitsugu Wada, stands firmly behind the school’s decision saying,“I thought Taimei can use the power of the foreign fashion brand for its identity” and would help signify Taimei as “a school of Ginza.”
“Schools should be mindful of uniform prices so that parents won’t be overburdened,” Education Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters in regards to the Taimei controversy. Despite the encouragement from the Ministry of Education for schools to be mindful of their decisions, Hayashi says that principals ultimately have the authority to set uniform rules and regulations.